After more than a year of pushback from local residents, a pair of strip club moguls have received a liquor license from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) for a new bar along the Washington Avenue corridor.
According to their attorney Al Van Huff, owner brothers Ali and Hassan Davari — whose notorious Galleria-area strip club Treasures is under investigation from Harris County authorities who want to shut it down — say their upcoming establishment, Patio Pub, is planned as a sports bar.
"They're diversifying their holdings into non-sexually-oriented ventures, but the city continues to oppose them."
While the "sports bar" moniker is used for breastaurants like Hooters and Twin Peaks, Van Huff tells CultureMap that Patio Pub and a second future Washington Avenue bar from the brothers called Level 3 are part of the Davaris' plan to move away from the strip club format that has marked their career.
"The Davari brothers aren't planning anything remotely like a gentlemen's club on Washington," the attorney says. "They're diversifying their holdings into non-sexually-oriented ventures, but the city continues to oppose them."
In May 2011, KHOU reported that the neighborhood citizens group's attempt to block the Patio Pub's alcohol permit would be joined by the City of Houston, which signs off on liquor applications before their submission to the TABC. The anti-Patio Pub campaign cited dozens of TABC violations and police incidents as evidence.
"The manner in which the permit applicants operate their other businesses have proven to not really be in such a neighborly fashion," Chris Newport of the Houston regulatory department told KHOU. "We don’t think these permit applicants operating alcohol-related businesses at this location, in this neighborhood, would be a positive for that community."
The judge concluded there was "an insufficient basis for denying the appl ication" and recommended issuing Patio Pub a liquor permit.
After a lengthy TABC investigation and a public hearing in which the citizens and city officials made their case, State Administrative Judge Lindy Hendricks concluded in October 2011 there was "an insufficient basis for denying the application" and recommended issuing Patio Pub a liquor permit.
Houston officials let the application move forward, allowing the TABC to grant the bar a two-year liquor license that began April 30.
Ryan Decuire of the local TABC office told CultureMap that only local jurisdiction can approve whether an establishment can operate as a sexually-oriented business . . . so, basically, the Patio Pub can move forward and Washington area residents will have to take the word of the Davari brothers.
Meanwhile, the Davari's other Washington Avenue venture, Level 3, faces opposition from State Rep. Garnet Coleman, who could not be reached for comment. Alongside neighborhood groups, Coleman is employing similar arguments to those that city officials used against the construction of Patio Pub.
Van Huff said the multi-level sports bar and night club will not be sexually-oriented and is planned for a location on a full city block owned by the Davaris at Washington and Bashear. Though Judge Hendricks recommended issuing a liquor license in January, a permit for Level 3 has yet to be granted.